A COSTLY county cable theft was mentioned as lawmakers debated new legislation cracking down on the illegal trade in scrap metal.

A Worcester News report of the £4,000 cable theft – which cut off telephone and broadband services to St Peter’s estate in Worcester last week – was referred to by Lord Faulkner of Worcester during a debate in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

The Lords agreed for an amendment to be added to the Scrap Dealers (Amendment) Act as they discussed Legal Aid reforms.

Lord Faulkner had wanted his amendment to be adopted but deferred to the Government’s version.

Both amendments would make it illegal to use cash in scrap dealings, and force dealers to register.

Lord Faulkner, who is the Bill’s sponsor, said: “I did not press my amendment, but instead let the Government press theirs.

“I’m happy. The Government’s amendment is fine – except in one aspect in that they are exempting itinerant sellers from the cashless regime.

“It’s not quite the last word because I will have a word with the minister before the third reading to see if they can modify it.”

He also said that the Government had not put forward “any coherent argument” why the itinerant dealers would be excluded.

During the debate he said: “There is no reason why a cashless system cannot be implemented by bona fide itinerant collectors.”

Lord Faulkner says a cashless system must be adopted all the way through the industry from scrap traders who trawl the highways and byways of Worcestershire, to the weighing merchants to be most effective.

Under the amendment as it stands it is the scrap dealers in their vans, with their calls of “scrap iron” who would be exempted from registering as dealers leaving them potentially free to carry on trading in cash.

The amendment proposes all other traders should be registered and cash transactions scrapped.

Scrap metal is a hot political issue with all parties agreeing it is a growing scourge.

• Meanwhile, police in the county are asking for witnesses to the latest theft of lead flashing from an Evesham church roof between 5pm on Tuesday and 10.45am yesterday.

The Church of All Saints in Market Place was the target, and it is estimated that it will cost the church £6,000 to replace the lead.

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.